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CityAirbus NextGen drives mobility into the third dimension
Focussing on the EPDS and human-machine interface, Airbus has charged Eaton with the design and manufacture of the power distribution unit and Crouzet to equip the flight deck with the piloting control device.
A 3D visual of the CityAirbus NextGen eVTOL aircraft.
Read this story in our February 2023 printed issue.

After selecting all partners for structural elements of its eVTOL prototype, Airbus is now focusing on two major features of its CityAirbus NextGen eVTOL aircraft: the electrical power distribution system (EPDS) and the human-machine interface.

Airbus has selected Eaton and Crouzet to provide the EPDS and the human-machine interface of CityAirbus NextGen, respectively. The providers' valuable experience in electrical power management and flight deck controls will ensure the seamless integration of the two subsystems into the prototype's architecture. Additionally, as key contributors to the aircraft's performance levels, reliability and safety, the two parts will have an important impact on the vehicle's capabilities.

Airbus head of procurement Stefan Hedtstück says: “Eaton and Crouzet bring a unique mix of aviation expertise to our journey with CityAirbus NextGen. From full electrification to advanced ways of piloting, they are key partners in our mission to develop the features that will make our eVTOL a true game changer for air mobility.”

As the provider of CityAirbus NextGen's electrical power distribution system, Eaton has mobilised its teams to create an optimal solution to deliver electrical power from the Airbus-designed batteries to CityAirbus NextGen's eight electrical power units. The power distribution system ensures that the eVTOL is flying safely, by compensating for any reduction of battery performance in flight. Leveraging the company's extensive experience in electrification for the aviation industry, Eaton is designing, analysing and manufacturing the power distribution unit to be fully integrated within the electrical propulsion system of the Airbus prototype.

“We designed a high voltage, intelligent solution for the eVTOL's electrical power distribution system in line with CityAirbus NextGen's architecture,” explains general manager engine solutions and electrification Tyler Ford. “The use of the latest generation electronic and protective components plays an important part in this endeavour.”

This also applies to Crouzet, which will equip CityAirbus NextGen's flight deck with the piloting control device. Benefiting from extensive experience in flight deck controls, the electromechanical and electronic components company has developed a whole new human-machine interface concept that complies with the most stringent requirements for size, weight and safety: the pilot will manage the trajectory of the vehicle rather than the attitude of the aircraft. The actual control action on the propellers is then managed by the advanced flight control system. The new piloting interface radically simplifies flying and thus reduces pilot workload.

“Airbus and Crouzet jointly designed a cutting-edge human-machine interface that allows pilots to fly the CityAirbus NextGen and to control peripheral functions such as the radio and the autopilot,” explains marketing segment leader Philippe Defrance. This innovative subsystem will be a compact combination of electronics, mechanical and software technologies.

To rise to the challenge, Eaton and Crouzet have powered end-to-end technical solutions that will deliver advanced air mobility requirements for the highest levels of safety and innovation.

Consequently, the human-machine-interface is a major asset for the cockpit concept retained for the CityAirbus NextGen. Indeed, it will rely on Crouzet's piloting device to let the pilot choose either a fully automated flight or manual control take-over for a smooth and easy steering of the aircraft anytime during the flight.

"This new generation of pilot control is an important step toward air mobility services with Airbus' eVTOL", says Defrance. "We worked side by side with Airbus, a long term trusted partner, to shape the most ergonomic pilot control device for the CityAirbus NextGen."

Eaton has fostered the development of electrical flight through years of collaboration with Airbus, and by investing in base technologies such as materials, processes and controls, in order to deliver an innovative eVTOL system that is safe, accessible and secure.

“Electrified flight is a major milestone for this industry and a key-element of Eaton's aerospace strategy for the next decades. As an expert in power systems, selective coordination and power distribution, Eaton has a key role to play,” adds SVP and general manager of Eaton's fluid and electrical distribution division Krishna Jonnalagadda. “We are providing Airbus with the latest of our innovative technologies and aerospace processes to comply with safety of flight.”

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